Why finance leaders don’t waste 75% of their time working on spreadsheets

A recent study of PWC (Finance Effectiveness Benchmark Study 2019) revealed that financial leaders frequently play a prominent role in taking strategic financial as well as operational decisions. Currently, the top of financial leaders spends up to 75% of their time on the analysis of the data and the subsequent “actionable insights”.

This can be considered as a substantial difference compared with two years ago. Back then, the same  study showed that only 25% of time was spent doing actual analysis, and another 40-50% was spent on collecting the data. This shows a very clear shift from finance to business thinking, and thus a clear added value to the enterprise.

The study also revealed that automatization of financial tasks generates a 30-40% time saving advantage. The most important advantage lies in the automatization of routine tasks such as management reporting. 

Or does this finance top actually spends 75% in their spreadsheets too?

The chance is considerably small. And here are 4 reasons why:

  1. Spreadsheets are not very intuitive in use. An average user is able to build fundamental formulas, draw graphs and even use pivot tables. However, for more complex functions the majority of people will make use of the “advanced-spreadsheets-hero” of the company who will use a magic trick to fix it. This is not user-friendly at all and generates hardly any insights.

    A reporting platform, like the one from BrightAnalytics, is very intuitive to use for everyone, even for people without a financial background. In such a platform you can build management reports connected to your business strategy, which makes it clear and insightful for everybody in the company. 

  2. Spreadsheets and human errors go hand in hand. One small typo, a fault in the formula or a wrong selection of data range can instantly generate a cascade of wrong results. And which Board of Directors wants to make decisions based on unreliable results? Either you don’t even notice the mistake or you spend hours and hours to find it. 

    The data in a reporting tool is automatically generated out of accounting-, ERP- or CRM systems. In addition, all the data is automatically checked on health checks. Consequently, all the results are 100% reliable. 

  3. There is no such thing as a crash proof spreadsheet. The higher your enterprise growth rate, the bigger your data volume and the more complex your formulas get. In this way, spreadsheets have a very long adjustment time. To prevent your system from crashing, historic numbers are deleted, and by this also your historical benchmarks are gone.

    A spreadsheet is of course flexible, but being agile for growth is another story. The more ambitious your company growth objectives and your organizational structure, the more you will notice this is in your management reporting platform. BrightAnalytics’ platform displays both the historical data as well as the results of many complex structures in an organized and clear way. It is applicable on your whole organization and filtered by entities, business units, provinces and so on.

  4.  Spreadsheets turn into dinosaurs really quick. What about the data collection? Keeping reports in spreadsheets up-to-date is often a time-costly, manual process, in which you are dependent on multiple departments to receive recent figures. At the point when you have received all the data, it’s already outdated again. In this way, you keep updating your reports last-minute from FinalReport and FinalReport_vs, to FinalReport_v10_update and even FinalReport_v11_finalB.

BrightAnalytics generates one correct, actual version of the truth for everyone in just 1 click. Trustworthy data for everyone that:

  • presents actionable insights, on which you can build your managerial decisions. Just like one of our clients Codit: they use BrightAnalytics as a targeting mechanism in management meetings.
  • provide short term savings. In this way, the cigar manufacturer J. Cortes spotted an enormous water leakage almost immediately, because of a sudden surge in costs.
  • delivers a boost to your sales. At Serax, field representatives analyze de complete history of a certain trader in only ten minutes. Always have the valuable information at your fingertips!

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Gain time with automation

As a finance leader you want to allocate your time to the tasks that matter the most for your organization. The automation of finance tasks is a logical next step to reach this goal. The start of this automation is however not radical. Our motto is: start small, grow big. 

Replace your manual, xls-based management reporting by the automated and totally reliable approach of a reporting platform like BrightAnalytics. It quickly delivers insights, which you can easily share with all stakeholders through an user-friendly reporting platform.

Want to discover more? Discover how our platform works.


So, death to spreadsheets?

No, spreadsheets are still an important tool for financial professionals. At first sight spreadsheets do the job for smaller, less complex organization. However, even for more advanced analysts, the spreadsheet is still ideal for ad hoc analyses in combination with monthly management reporting through a platform.

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